I don’t smoke, but I have recently inherited a flat, that was used by my father, who was unfortunately heavy smoker.
The flat was very untidy and stuffed full of furniture, household items, old food and lots of other things accumulated over the years. We knew that this was going to be a challenge to clean, tidy and make this flat habitable again.
The old smoke was one of the last things that needed addressing. I’m pleased to say, that although this was not an easy process, we have managed to get rid of the old cigarette smoke smell. And here is how we’ve done it:
How to remove old cigarette smoke smell from the house
1. Thrown anything that you don’t need or can’t be hard cleaned or washed at high temperature
The smoke smell gets into everything, so if you can’t wash it or it collects dust, bin it!
We’ve thrown most of the broken furniture, odd pieces of small appliances collected over the years and pretty much anything else that could include trapped smoke smell.
We’ve also taken down any soft furnishings, like curtains, cushions and we have thrown an old carpet and anything that could absorb smoke and can’t be properly washed.
2. Wash all furniture surfaces with a strong detergent
I’ve used a strong detergent with sand to scrub down all old wardrobes and kitchen cupboards. This included scrubbing and wiping down the inside of all cupboards and also the top and the back of any cupboard or wardrobe I could pull from the wall.
3. Wash and scrub all other surfaces
In our case, this included an old linoleum, kitchen appliances, the washing machine and anything else that wasn’t already washed. I’ve used a mixture of a cream cleanser for stubborn stains and wiped down (several times!!) all surfaces with a diluted vinegar solution, made out of hot water and vinegar.
4. Wash the walls
Washing the walls with a mix of water and bicarbonate of soda helped a lot, but some of our rooms were painted with basic whitewashing paint, which started to come off as well. You can also mix ammonia and water and use it for basic cleaning.
5. Paint the walls
In the end, I’ve decided to paint the walls to get rid of the old cigarette smoke. I’ve chosen good quality paint as I really didn’t want to paint several layers or still have problems with smoke. This was the most laborious and costly solution to our problem (yes, I’ve painted the rooms myself including our 3.5m high celling’s!), but it worked! The old cigarette smoke has suddenly disappeared and instead of we’ve been left with the smell of the freshly painted room. A great improvement!
6. Boil vinegar and or put some vinegar in a bowl
I didn’t think this would work, but it did! First of all, I boiled the kettle with vinegar instead of water (this is great for getting any limestone from your kettle) and then I’ve poured the rest of the vinegar in a bowl and placed it on top of a high kitchen cupboard. This way I wouldn’t knock it over and since I can’t even see the bowl it doesn’t look so ugly (or strange when somebody comes round).
I can’t smell the vinegar much, but I can definitely smell-less smoke, so it’s a thumbs up for this solution.
I have also tried the following tips and whilst they are very effective for getting rid of smoke on a temporary basis, I still had to re-paint everywhere and scrub pretty much all the surfaces in the flat.
7. Boil some vinegar, or use it to wash affected items
Vinegar eliminates the bad cigarette smell and it also cleans well. You can use it instead of your normal cleaning product.
8. Sprinkle baking soda on affected items
The baking soda reacts with the vinegar to create a fizzing solution, which helps to clean the surfaces. It also eliminates the vinegar smell a little.
9. Fill bowls with charcoal
Charcoal also absorbs smoke brilliantly, but it might be trickier to come by. If you don’t have charcoal readily at home, skip this one and go to the next tip!
10. Coffee Grounds
Similarly like with vinegar, you can leave out bowls filled with what would be normally discarded coffee grounds. Once you make your coffee, tip the coffee grounds to a spare bowl and keep adding more coffee grounds as and when available. Place the bowl somewhere, where you can’t knock it over and leave it for at least 24 hrs or more.
11. Vanilla extract
The vanilla smell is sweet and pleasant, unlike the smell of vinegar, which is great because it also helps to eliminate the smoke smell. Simply soak cotton balls with some vanilla extract and leave it on a small plate in several places in your room. The vanilla smell will slowly disappear as the cotton balls dry out. To make the cotton balls last longer, moisten them with water or add more vanilla extract.
12 Cut up apples
Cut up few apples in half and leave them around the room. Just don’t forget to remove them or replace before they start to go off.
13 Air purifier
If you have an air purifier, switch it on and relax. The air purifier, especially if you have one with a carbon filter will do all the hard work for you and keep your room smell fresh all the time.